13 Movie Theater Hacks To Make Your Moviegoing Experience Better

With these tips and tricks, you can be a moviegoing pro.

1. Butter your popcorn more evenly using a straw.

Neen Bean

Neen Bean / Via youtube.com

If you go to a movie theater chain that allows you to butter your own popcorn, you canget a nice, even distribution of butter by putting a straw on the dispenser and sticking the straw deep into your popcorn bag. No more dry, butterless popcorn at the bottom of the bag!

If you’re at a place where the concessions workers butter for you, just ask them to “layer” the butter for a similar effect.

2. Use the RunPee app to figure out when you can go pee during a long movie.

RunPee / Via itunes.apple.com

RunPee / Via itunes.apple.com

Movies are getting longer and longer these days, and some of us just don’t have the bladder capacity for it (especially after drinking a bucket of soda). This app, available for iOS and Android, tells you when there’s a lull in the plot so you can go pee. It’ll also tell you if there’s a post-credits scene so you know if you should stick around or not!

The app does cost money (and runs ads on top of that), but the official AMC Theaters app has RunPee included for any currently running movie for free.

3. Buy your tickets in bulk in advance to save money.

Buy your tickets in bulk in advance to save money.

Sunstock / Getty Images

Places like Sam’s Club or Costco will sometimes offer movie passes in larger quantities, providing a pretty sizable discount over buying at the theater.

Be sure to check the fine print, though: Some prepurchased passes aren’t usable for big releases during the first week or two in theaters, so you might not be able to use them on opening weekend.

4. See a lot of movies every month? There’s a Netflix for movie theaters.

See a lot of movies every month? There's a Netflix for movie theaters.

MoviePass / Via moviepass.com

MoviePass lets you see as many movies as you want at participating theaters for $30 or $35, depending on where you live. If you see more than a couple movies every month, that can turn out to be a major discount.

There’s a lot of fine print, including:
∙ The service only works for 2D, non-IMAX movies.
∙ You can only see one movie in a 24-hour period.
∙ You have to sign up for a full year before you can cancel (unless you cancel before the trial period ends).
∙ Some theaters might not participate.

But if those aren’t a problem for you, this can be a great deal.

5. Hate trailers? Get to your movie about 13 minutes late.

Hate trailers? Get to your movie about 13 minutes late.

MPAA / Via youtube.com

That’s usually the minimum amount of time given to ads and trailers before the movie. As long as you have assigned seating and don’t need to get there early, feel free to take your time and stop off for concessions.

7. Want the best sound quality? Sit toward the back.

Want the best sound quality? Sit toward the back.

Saipal / Via Flickr: saipal

When projectionists check for sound quality, they usually sit about two-thirds of the way back and in the center of the row. That’s where you’re likely to get the best sound quality, though you might be farther away from the screen than you’d prefer.

8. Forget “airplane mode.” Put your phone in “movie mode” for rewards through Cinemark.

Google Play / Via play.google.com

Google Play / Via play.google.com

The official Cinemark app has CineMode, which dims your phone’s screen and silences it for the duration of the movie automatically. If you don’t touch your phone the whole time, you get a reward for use at any Cinemark theater.

9. For families with children who have autism or other special needs, some theaters offer special screenings.

For families with children who have autism or other special needs, some theaters offer special screenings.

AMC Theaters / Autism Society / Via plus.google.com

These screenings leave the lights on and don’t require kids to be quiet or stay put in their seats, so that families who usually can’t see movies in theaters have a chance for the cinematic experience. AMC Theatres currently offers these screenings, but other independent theaters and larger chains are starting up similar programs as well.

10. Try using your AAA or AARP membership for discounted tickets.

Try using your AAA or AARP membership for discounted tickets.

AAA / Google Maps / Via discounts.autoclubmo.aaa.com

Depending on your location, AAA members or AARP members can sometimes get pretty steep discounts on movie tickets. Often you’ll be limited to certain chains and the tickets might have some restrictions, so be sure to read the fine print.

11. Buy gift cards from a swap site for a big discount on anything at the theater.

Buy gift cards from a swap site for a big discount on anything at the theater.

Cardpool / Via cardpool.com

Sites like Cardpool or Raise buy unwanted gift cards and sell them to others at a discount. If you’re lucky, you could potentially grab some gift cards for your favorite theater chain at a good deal less than the actual worth of the card.

Be cautious of electronic or mobile gift cards, as some sites don’t guarantee that they’ll work.

12. Check sites like Groupon for coupons…or just ask for one.

Check sites like Groupon for coupons...or just ask for one.

Fuse / Getty Images / Thinkstock

Sites like Groupon or LivingSocial will sometimes offer discounts on movie tickets or concessions for certain chains. But if that fails, don’t feel shy about asking the theater if they have any coupons or discounts! You might be surprised at what they can offer, especially if you can prove you’re a loyal customer.

13. Hate the movie? Talk to customer service for a potential refund or free pass.

NBC / Via reddit.com

If your moviegoing experience is terrible for any reason — e.g., the audience is loud, the sound is bad, or the movie itself just plain stinks — politely and respectfully complain to customer service. If it’s within the first 15 minutes or so of the movie,chances are good you’ll get a free pass, a swap for another movie that’s about to start, or some other perk for the inconvenience.

One former theater manager on Quora even noted that you can sometimes get a free pass if you complain after the movie is finished, but that’s less likely to work.

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